The West Hartford Greater Together Community Fund Advisory Committee has announced their inaugural grants to local nonprofit organizations, concluding the first grant cycle since the all-volunteer committee of town residents was formed by the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving last year.
The seven grants awarded, in amounts ranging from $1,850 to $5,500, will help to fund programs or projects that will “improve or enhance the quality of life in West Hartford or otherwise contribute to address a direct need” of the West Hartford community. A total of $25,000 was awarded; the amount of each grant was based on the scope and focus of the project proposals submitted for consideration.
The grants are being awarded to:
▪ West Hartford Fellowship Housing ($5,500) – to further expand existing nutritional program to encourage healthy choices for seniors 62+, in partnership with local farms and the University of Connecticut.
▪ West Hartford African American Social and Cultural Organization ($5,000) – to purchase and install a commemorative plaque in honor of Lemuel Haynes, the first ordained black minister in the United States.
▪ Copper Beach ($3,950) – to fund hiring of BIPOC facilitators to develop a podcast focusing on daily mindfulness practices to support BIPOC communities.
▪ Golden Door: A Center for Immigrants ($3,700) – for the Building Bridges Book Club, an intercultural book club that meets at the West Hartford Public Library. Participants will receive English language learning support, while building relationships, sharing cultures and exchanging thoughts. The program is accessible to all West Hartford immigrants.
▪ Bridge Family Center ($3,000) – to support the West Hartford Teen Center garden project; add a raised bed, create rainwater catch and irrigation system and build a greenhouse; gift card to teens who support program; free produce distribution.
▪ Noah Webster House Witness Stones Project ($2,000) – to purchase benches to support comfortable viewing of the Witness Stones project.
▪ Autism Families Connecticut ($1,850) – to support Friday Night Teen Socials by providing supplies and materials for virtual teen nights.
“Throughout this process, we learned anew what a diverse and dynamic community West Hartford is, and the impressive array of nonprofit organizations that contribute to the quality of life,” said Danielle Moghadam and Leah Chapman, co-chairs of the West Hartford Community Fund. “This was a wonderfully collaborative effort, with every committee member involved and working diligently to develop a process to evaluate applications and provide grants that will impact our community. We are proud to award grants to seven dedicated and deserving organizations, and look forward to what’s ahead.”
In 2019, the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving established community funds for each of the 29 towns in the Foundation’s region, which includes the town of West Hartford. Each Greater Together Community Fund is administered by an advisory committee of town residents that must be inclusive and reflective of all of the residents of that community. The West Hartford Greater Together Community Fund Advisory Committee was selected and began operating in the Fall of 2020.
“When the Hartford Foundation began developing the Greater Together Community Funds initiative, it was based on the recognition that community residents are keenly aware of the needs their town’s face, and that they should be supported and empowered to select projects that respond to these needs,” said Hartford Foundation President Jay Williams. “We knew that by setting up an initiative rooted in inclusion, participatory decision making and led by community residents, the work would be both rewarding and challenging. This was true even before the impact of COVID; however, the hard work, dedication and enthusiasm of our town residents to benefit their respective communities is evidenced by the array of grants that the Committee in West Hartford has awarded.”
The purpose of the community fund is to support the community in taking ownership around the needs in individual towns, encourage broad and inclusive civic engagement and anchor the Hartford Foundation in each town. Each community received a total amount of $100,000. Half of the fund amount is available to fund current projects or programs; the other half is endowed, meaning a percentage of those dollars will be available every year to grant, following the Hartford Foundation’s spending policy.
Each advisory committee was created through an extensive outreach process where a selection committee made up of local residents and stakeholders identified and chose members. The West Hartford Advisory Committee designed and built a grantmaking process from the ground up, aimed at ensuring that the fund would have a meaningful impact for the benefit of town residents. Hartford Foundation staff provided guidance on topics such as inclusive group practices, participatory decision making and grantmaking.
Any nonprofit registered as a 501(c)(3) organization that serves the residents of West Hartford was eligible to submit a letter of intent. Nonprofits do not need to be headquartered or based in West Hartford to be eligible, but must serve and benefit West Hartford residents.
The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving’s community fund program also creates an opportunity for organizations and individuals to make tax-deductible contributions to the West Hartford Community Fund. All donations are welcome and will be utilized in support of West Hartford residents. For additional information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Individuals interested in applying to serve as a member of the Committee, for a two-year term beginning in October 2021, email email@example.com or visit the website at https://www.hfpg.org/donors/ways-to-give/community-funds/west-hartford for more information about the work of the Committee.
The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving is the community foundation for Hartford and 28 surrounding communities. Through partnerships, the Foundation seeks to strengthen communities in Greater Hartford by putting philanthropy in action to dismantle structural racism and achieve equity in social and economic mobility. Made possible by the gifts of generous individuals, families and organizations, the Foundation has awarded grants of more than $849 million since its founding in 1925. For more information, visit www.hfpg.org or call 860-548-1888.